Customer success: 3 Off-beat tools for small businesses

customer success

By Kiki Schirr, {grow} Contributing Columnist

On March 6th I launched my own web-based video chat platform. So on that same day, I also became the company’s sole customer success agent.

I thought my time working at Geek Squad and Apple would assist me, but there’s a difference between being a customer-facing employee and guiding the whole company’s policy toward customers. I quickly found that what works face-to-face in retail, or over the phone in tech support, doesn’t always work with your own customers. For example, there was no escalating a problem to a higher authority — I had the final say!

So here are the top three lessons in customer success that have been helpful for me as a solopreneur. I hope that by reading them, you don’t have to learn them the hard way!

First, what is customer success?

Customer success is a retention-based customer service policy. The goal is not only to leave the customer happy, but also to ensure that they know how to utilize your product fully, that they’re enjoying use of your product, and that they would recommend it to others.

Toward that goal, while customer service is often triggered by customer complaints, customer success is proactive. Customer success managers approach customers before there is a problem. They have a pulse on customer satisfaction, and have an active role in designing instructions, welcome screens, and even new features.

The three recommendations that I will outline are some I have used recently. I hope the lessons I’ve learned will also help you!

1) Hanlon’s Razor

Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by neglect.”

Hanlon’s Razor is one of the mental models outlined by the Farnam Street Blog. Farnam Street Blog specializes in training its readers to approach problem solving and thinking in general with mental models. — cheat sheets in times of confusion. It’s a worthwhile read. I signed up for the emails just in time.

Hanlon’s Razor could not have come at a better time. I was dealing with a customer that I found challenging, so I looked at the problem again. By re-framing it in terms of Hanlon’s Razor (cognitive reappraisal), I found that what I had previously interpreted to be an annoying, deliberate use of my free time, was much more likely to be a case of computer illiteracy… and my attitude immediately changed.

I took the time to walk the customer through what needed to be done with patience and understanding. As a result, we both had a better experience. By using cognitive reappraisal to change my mindset, we were both happier individuals, and the customer is now a regular user!

2) Make it easy to broadcast your customer’s passion

Social proof, the endorsement of your product by a real person to their friends, is one of the most powerful forces in marketing. One major focus of your advertising strategy should be to reduce the friction for a customer to share your product with their friends.

Early on, we noticed that our customers, despite signing in with their Facebook accounts, were more likely to share a link to our platform through Twitter. So as an experiment, we added a “Tweet this!” button to every room. Overnight, links to our site on Twitter increased by 600%. The use of this button continues to grow, and regularly drives in new users.

Look for patterns in your users’s behavior that already exist and try to facilitate them. If you’ve written an ebook, link to your Goodreads or Amazon review site in the final chapter. If you’re mailing a physical product, insert two or more coupons, so they can not only buy again themselves, but share discounts with friends. Regularly search Reddit and Quora for mentions of your product, and respond with warmth and answer any questions they might have to aid further discussion.

Overall, just do what you can to help translate passionate word of mouth to socially shared Internet links.

3) Be your (quirky) self

In Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers, Tim Ferriss discusses a quirky company email. The early Internet company CD Baby used to send an email each time one of their customers sold a CD. One day, the founder of the company was feeling playful, and without much thought, rewrote the email to be a tongue-in-cheek, fun missive.

The result was that customers began to forward the email to friends. So without a single dollar spent, CD Baby suddenly received the best kind of advertising: positive word of mouth.

When I read this chapter, I thought to myself: How can I also delight my customers in a fun, quirky manner?

So I wrote each of our Patreon supporters a short poem that day.

For example, to JS, who is a talented voice actor, I wrote:


Mr. G—-t of San Francisco, South

Possesses a very talented mouth

From it I heard Skeletor scream

Brando mumbled–and was that James Dean?

But above all, what we like best,

Is hearing from him, our good friend, JS.

The response was quick and quite positive. I received thank you emails, additional Patreon pledges, and a few of the current supporters upped their pledge. Dollar values aside, the added boost to community morale was the best thing to come from it. I hopped into conversations days later to find people reading their poems to other people.

I hope that these three tools assist you with your company’s customer success. Please feel free to reach out to me via Twitter if you have any more private questions, but I’d love to hear what advice you would give others in the comments!

KikiSchirrKiki Schirr is a freelance marketer and founder of WeKiki video platform. She is currently running the company and draws Tech Doodles in her spare time. Kiki can be reached easily through Twitter.

Image courtesy of the wonderful photo site Pexels

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